Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vote For Me For Wired Magazine!

Hey! I've entered a food themed photography contest for Wired Magazine. Vote for me here:


It's the one with the tomatoes!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Strange combinations

The Catholic patron saint St. Fiacre is in charge of (hold on!): gardeners, French cab drivers, and people suffering from haemorrhoids and veneral diseases.

What a combination. I can understand the connection between medicinal plants in gardens and diseases, but what are the French taxi drivers doing in there? Like Magnus, Brasse, and Eva said in the Swedish childhood TV program: - En ska bort! (one has to go). [this is kind of an internal joke for people that grew up in the 70s in Sweden]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Grounds for sculpture-Hamilton NJ

This is an amazing place you really have to see. I'm just posting pictures of some different sculpture to see, I'm sure there will be more about this park later on in new posts.

On a scale one to ten I think this was a nine, it was such a good athmosphere in this park, you could peak around corners and get new views of sculptures that you didn't realize where there until they suddenly just "popped up".

Visit this place, a big recommendation!

Two Beer Butt on the grill

Hi everybody!

Did you think we where out of blog posts? Think again, we just been thinking!

Here is an example of the cooking of two delicious Beer Butt chicken, one Italian flavored with thyme , rosemary, garlic and lemon, and one with a nice spice chili rub and sause. As you see them on the picture, they have a beer up their butt, or at least half a beer each, the rest got drunk...

After about a hour and a half in the grill it is delicious. LS have made a blogpost of this before. Search for beer butt.

Monday, September 22, 2008


A flower for our new addition to our extended family, and this one was born on Friday in Norway. Congratulations and welcome to the world!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Made in Maine

Sustainable jewelry a la AREA and LS. Pine needles and maple leaves for free!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quote of the day

In an e-mail I was sent a few days ago:

"Let me know if I can be of further existence."

Hilarious or sad? - this person doesn't know the difference between existence or assistance.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Skogen är full av lingonben

...benen kliver över stock och sten
hipp och hopp och murkla,
där stod kantarellen.

Föränderliga semlesvamp,
bleka taggsvampar och därtill
uti gröna mossan tutade i tratten.

Långa klivet hemåt gick,
tunga armar då jag fick
tutade och vissla, men jag hörde inget

Glad med lingon i min hink
tunga kassen skogens guld
nu så ser jag huset
"nu ä mamma hemma!"

Barking dog plaza 13/9 2008

For all non-swedish speaking: If you use the automatic translator for this, I can tell you it doesn´t even make sense in swedish. I´m just fooling around with a swedish nonsense vocal, with my own words. Ask LS and she will, maybe, tell you the general idea.
Because...this is what the automatic translator comes up with

Forest is full of lingonben
bone stride over logs and stone
hip and spring and decayed ,
there stood kantarellen.
Alterable semlesvamp ,
bleach taggsvampar and därtill
uti greener pulp tutade in funnel.
Tall stride hemåt was going ,
tongue arms then self was getting tutade and hiss ,
but self heard nothing
Jolly with linguist in mine bucket
tongue bin forest gold
now so am seeing self accommodate
" now ä mamma housewife!"

Do you understand anything? How can lingon be linguist? And hemma translate to housewife?
I think it´s amazing they call this translation service. But of course, they claim to know 1600 different languages, and since almost nobody speaks swedish, who would know if they cheat a bit? Intertran

LS' translation (with some minor changes and no rhymes):

The forest is full of lingon legs
walking over logs and rocks
hipp and jump and morel,
there was the chantarell!

Everchanging pastryshroom,
pale spike fungi and more as well,
trumpeted in the green moss.

Long steps toward my home,
with burdened arms I walked,
toot and whistle, but I heard nothing

Happy with full lingon bucket,
heavy bag with forest gold
now I see the farm house,
"now Mom is home!"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now I am a real American (and Swede)

Today I became an American citizen, a process that have taken over a year. After living in the US for the last 13 years, I figured that if I pay taxes and care about life here, I better become a citizen so I can vote. Yes, the president of the last 7 years had a lot to do with that I decided to become a citizen, as well as that Sweden now allows dual citizenships.

I wanted to tell you about the oath ceremony. It is in the court building in Newark, a big concrete box with boring architecture. Lots of security, x-ray machines and so on, and all cell phones off (a fact we asked about three times).

You get two little books, one is the pocket-sized constitution, and the other a larger little book called A Citizen's Almanac, that includes famous speches, events, court rulings and portraits of famous Americans that were born in other countries (Einstein, Bell, Marlene Dietrich...). You sit down in a square room with a podium, a flag, and a flatscreen TV. On the TV is an American flag waving in the wind and the seal of the Department of Homeland Security is on the podium. A woman comes in and tells us what will happen and how, and that yes, we can make as many copies of our naturalization certificate (the proof of citizenship) as we want, even if it says on it that we can't. Simply because it cost you $60 and six months to get a new a copy if it is lost, and the department doesn't want to deal with trying to get new copies for all the ones that are lost.

We are about 40 people in the room, plus some extra family members that are there for support with cameras and babies. We are asked to stand up, and we repeat the oath of citizenship and raising our right hands, then the pledge of allegiance. Too bad there is a 'under God' in both of them, that really should go. Then we get to see a short video of GWB (no, not a hormon, this is the current president) giving a speech to us, all new citizens. Actually that was not too bad. But afterwards came a music video of a song that I had never heard before, called God Bless the USA. It was like karaoke, the words listed underneath, and with lots of nice photos of America and American citizens, but just so horribly patriotic, sleazy, and slimy with self-rightiousness. How about Bless the Whole World? A friend of ours suggested bumper stickers that said "God Bless the Other Countries, for a change". After that we were given our envelopes. The person handing out mine gave up after saying my first name, the whole name was too long and complicated (yep, Swedish is complicated). And then we were free to go, as brand new citizens.

I am sending in my voter registration tomorrow.

I found the whole process of becoming a citizen tiresome and slightly disturbing, just in the way it is done. I am glad I did it, and I care a lot about this country, but 1) the immigration department is not run very well - things take a lot of time, information you get was old or conflicting, twisted photocopies are sent as official information, and the waiting room for the interviews and fingerprinting is a madhouse. And then they hand out the Constitution, and I think that the person speaking on the video (the president), is the person that has done the most to destroy the constitutional rights of the American people. It is kind of weird to be an American but it also feels like no big deal. Strange. It is kind of like turning 40. You are the same, but people think you are different somehow, but nothing looks different.

And for you Swedes, don't worry, I am still Swedish. Sweden can thank me (among other voters) when Obama becomes president.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stamps of the Day: Slow motion photography

For the birders on this blog, dinner is served! Kestrel and barn owl in flight on British postage stamps from 2003, after photos by Stephen Dalton. I think these are amazing. It reminds me of old David Attenborough's nature movies.

And right now the screech owl is going crazy howling outside our window. EH, I bet you will hear it a lot from the guest bedroom window. It is great. A few nights we had two of them, one on each side of the house.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Maine: Bernard Harbor and Thurston's Lobster Pound

So you are hungry for lobster? Go to Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard, Maine, a quaint little place right on the docks. It is surrounded by piers where lobsters are hauled in by local fishermen and has a nice view of Bass Harbor across the little inlet.
Pick your lobster and they will steam it for you. It takes about 20 minutes.

Wolf down a lobster roll or two. This is simply lobster meat inside buns, with more or less mayonnaise. Thurston's came in second place, with Beal's Lobster in Southwest Harbor in first place, and Islesford Dock at third place in our little tasting competition (managed by LA mainly), but all were very delicious. Islesford had too much mayo in theirs. Next to the lobster roll is steamers. This are mud digging clams you steam so they open, then you take the clean part of the clam, dip it in water and then melted butter and then eat it. I had it the first time at the New Jersey shore and was very suspicious of it, but it is really, really good.
If you have a lobster restaurant you also need a lobster truck. Check out the license plate! Outside Thurston's is their propane powered steaming baths.

Lobster traps are marked on the ocean surface with buoys, and here are some old ones. The traps are ready to be thrown in the water, and are more complicated than they look.

This house is a book shop and wedding chapel and decorated with lobster buoys that belonged to the family that owns the place. These are real buoys, not onces that are recently made for tourists.

People from Maine love lobster and personalized license plates on their cars.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kim chi, miracle food

There was a time in my life I didn't know that kim chi (kim chee) existed. Later there was a time I eyed it suspiciously when it was served in little appetizer bowls (banchan) at our favorite Korean restaurant in the Bronx, to which you had to walk through some streets that I found particularly nasty. I always made sure I had company when I walked there. But the food was fantastic, the waitresses didn't know English, and we were often the only Westerners in there. But the kim chi I didn't really eat much of.

Then I moved to New Jersey, and the kim chi at the local Korean restaurant suddenly looked more appetizing, no doubt after being fed lots of spicy chile pepper dishes by PP. Kim chi after all is fermented cabbage infused with chiles. Kind of like sauerkraut (surkål), but made from Chinese (Napa) cabbage instead of regular cabbage and with lots of red chile stuff in it.

And today I saw a jar in the local Korean fruit market where I buy cheap limes and lemons and got a whole liter (pint) of it. Brought it home and opened it, and it was heavenly. Not to spicy, just right, and both PP and I said we could live on this if we had to. A fourth of the jar is already gone, so I better buy more. Do you have kim chi in Sweden? The Swedish food stores have become so internationalized since I moved from Sweden nearly 15 years ago, so I wouldn't be surprised if the kim chi is right next to the fermented herring (surströmming) on the shelf.

So, don't be afraid of kim chi. It is healthy too, it has lots of good bacteria that will help your stomach, just like living yogurt. Long live kim chi! It was invented 3000 years ago, so it is a long-lived food already.

Some facts: Koreans eat 40 lbs of kimchi per year (about 20 kg) per person. Kim chi has been called one of the 5 most healthiest food ever. And here is how it looks and how to make it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hot and wet in New Jersey

Weather Forecast for today:
Wind: E at 0 mph
Humidity: 100%

= sweat is dripping all over my body, no breeze at all, all fans are running, it is just horrible. A storm is on its way (tropical storm Hanna, in fact), so soon it will be raining too. I am sweating by just sitting still, and it is no fun. This is why I like Maine and the southwest - they don't have days like this. More Maine stories are coming soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What can you say about Whales?

We went Whale watching. I must admit I thought the experience would be disappointing, I thought you would see them very far in the distance, a black speck. Boy was I wrong. It was so amazing to take a boat out into the sea and come upon these creatures swimming about. The humpback actually swam right under the bow of the boat.

Here are some views:

A fin back just after a blow and surfacing, the head is to the left.

A finback with a harbor seal(it might be a gray seal). They seemed to get along just fine.

A Humpback "Sonogram" just going down for a dive. Yes they have identified individual animals and can tell them apart. We missed seeing "Lunch" a finback who has a large bite taken out of its fin!

"Sonogram" again just going down for a dive. Sonogram is about 4 years old, born in the Caribbean , they don't know its sex yet.

That is LS in the pic, taking her own pic. This is a finback again. I love how you can see the flipper just above LS's index finger under water. This Whale is about 60 feet long, that's about 18.3 meters for the rest of you. That is pretty big for an animal.

Without any doubt this was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life, it brings tears to my eyes even now. See them now before global warming kills them all.

The many faces of Mount Desert Island, ME

The last day out we were driving along and commenting how very few birds we saw, then we passed a car on the side of the road with a camera and big lens. AREA yelled out "Bald Eagle" and we stopped. He(she) was far away but we saw it well with the tube(thanks AnS). The pic here is not great but it was the first bald eagle I have seen in the wild.

Stones on the rocks at Seawall

Seawall again, a great morning on the rocks near Southwest Harbor.

Ship Harbor, ME
Our first day out, foggy and misty, great walk along a rocky shore. How this could be a "harbor" I don't know, its really too small for a real harbor. Tide was going out, deer walked along the opposite shore.

A Stutz car, my grandfather has a similar model, at the Seal Cove Auto Museum
Go soon for most of the collection will be gone by end of Sept. due to a big auction.

Nytt tomtkryss! New bird!

Kryss = New observation - that sounds so much better in Swedish in English. Kryss means X, for making an X on your list or in your field guide. I was sitting here in New Jersey a few minutes ago, blogging away, when I hear a sound and look out and two amazing little warblers, black and orange, are sitting in the Amelanchier (häggmispel) tree a few feet away. I have never seen that kind of bird before, and it was an American redstart. So this was my first observation for the species ever, and it was at our house. Cool! Check out the photos, isn't it beautiful? It looks tropical with those bold colors. I also ran into a nice bird blog that includes NJ birding.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Little Cranberry Island, Maine, USA, North America, Earth, Universe

Update: I have updated the text since the original text was written late last night while I was really tired, and now I have some more energy to describe it better.

One day on our vacation in Maine we took the post boat to Little Cranberry Island, a wonderful island with 70 residents in the winter and 13 children in the local school. In the summer there are hundreds of people living on the island. It is maybe 5 km long and 3 km wide, but has real (short) roads and a few cars, including electric ones. The photo to the left is the "post boat/ferry terminal", and on the right is a very unhappy electrocuted seagull in the harbor. You have to be careful if you plan to sit on electric wires. The island is beautiful, and I can imagine living there, at least in the summers. The winters must be very cold though, and it must be hard to transport everything out to the island. And I mean everything - toilet paper, fridges, gasoline, frozen peas, and library books.

Religious house (church) and ornithological hat house. In the little and only village, Islesford, there is a wonderful art gallery featuring local artists, and we were contemplating buying several watercolor prints, but our finances aren't the best so we decided not to. But there was a lot of really good art, and AREA commented that my mom's paintings would fit right in with the others on the wall.

Xanthoria lichens on a brick wall (right), and a typical New England house with lots of "veranda" space (left). The houses are in various state of repair, from not at all to wonderfully kept large farmhouses. I loved the porch encircling this house, like a shawl protecting the inside against cold winter winds. These colorful lichens are common along the coast and love higher pH so often grow on limestone and cliffs where the sea gulls hang out.

On the other side of the island is a wonderful pebble beach with tide pools, seals spying on us by bobbing up and down in the water, a view towards the ocean (Sweden is on the other side of the horizon, so far away), and washed up seaweed. This reminded me a lot about Gotska Sandön in the Baltic Sea, because of the serenity, the sky and the ocean (both so incredible blue here in Maine), and the lack of people. This is one of my favorite spots we visited. The lighthouse in a distance is on Little Cranberry Island and at low tide you can walk over to the island next to it.

In the harbor is Islesford Dock, a wonderful restaurant in an old harbor boat house. Here we had the best views and the best clam chowder, a kind of soup, in all of Maine (that we have tasted). Lobsters dipped in butter of course, and drinking Bar Harbor Ale, which is the local beer and not bad at all. We had lobster rolls (more about that later) and chili shrimp too. When you eat lobster you need real tools, lots of napkins, and a bib. It was all delicious!

The general store shares its space with the post office, which is minuscule. In the winter the store is open only a few hours per day. Everybody has to walk to the postoffice to get their mail. The store owner knew one sentence in Swedish which she proudly said: "Jag älskar min Volvo!".

Lobster buoys are color coded for each owner. These ones are definitely inspired by Sweden, right? To the left are some lobster cages, ready to be thrown in the sea.